Even within the niche sphere of this newsletter’s concerns, today’s topic is probably not super important. By the time this essay ships, everyone will have moved onto the next thing. But other writers—more qualified than I—have the Anniversary of the Invasion of Iraq covered. And, as always, I may be focussed on climbing and falling out of a trivial tree, but I do so in the hope we’ll hit some relevant branches on our way down.
So, without further ado, let’s talk about the fake Danzig twitter account.
For those of you unfamiliar with the basic facts, they are this:
- Glenn Danzig is a muscle-bound and lycanthropic—short stacked and crooning—ball of lizard man-king fury. He is best known as the singer/chief-songwriter for the horror-punk trailblazers, Misfits, the death-punk band Samhain, and the heavy (and occasionally bluesy) metal outfit that shares his last name. He also runs the NSFW comic book company Verotik, and is the director of the 2019 horror anthology film, Verotika. The dominant themes of his oeuvre are concerned primarily with the supernatural and the sensual; with lyrics that encompass topics ranging from Jackie Kennedy Onasis—in the immediate aftermath of her husband’s assassination—imbibing Danzig’s ejaculate from the palm of her hand, to Glenn Danzig’s own equally uncomplicated relationship with Satan. He also has a lyric that goes: “I got something to say/I killed a baby today… I got something to say/I raped your mother today.”
- Twitter is a once vibrant social media microblogging platform that, since its takeover by the billionaire father of Grimes’ children, is now the domain of diehards. With half its population made up of masochists, perverts, self-loathing perverts, and Swifties with bloodshot eyes, and the other half consisting of self-inflicted Thanksgiving orphans and men who argue with waitresses; all being the soulsick holdouts who have nowhere else to go where they might be loved in the way they’ve grown accustomed. Imagine Escape from L.A., but as a zombie movie. And every single character is a zombie that feeds off brains. And they all keep making the same jokes about how starving they are, while continuing to starve. (“There’s also a negative side.”)
- Bethany Shondark Mandel is a conservative writer. She was previously best known for her think-piece, We Need To Start Befriending Neo Nazis, a mini-essay that was published in Forward in 2017, which argued that the right wing marchers at Charlottesville—the tiki torch bearers insistent that there were self respecting Jews on Earth who might be caught dead switching places with anyone wearing white polos and khakis—might possibly be won over with a shy smile and a nice plate of kugel. Outside of that, I don’t know a lot about her. She’s always seemed strange and mean online, but just a cursory look at the litany of traumas that was her upbringing does sort of drain the fun out of hating her. Without forgetting for one moment that the ideologies she espouses are blithely oppressive; if one is inclined to extend a degree of empathy towards anyone who finds it hard to break a cycle of systemic violence, the same empathy can be extended to Mandel. Most recently, she appeared on Briahna Joy Gray’s Rising show to promote her upcoming book, Stolen Youth: How Radicals Are Erasing Innocence and Indoctrinating a Generation, where she was asked to define “woke.” Under interrogation by an ideological opponent with whom she shared less common ground than her enemies-as-friends-she-just-hadn’t-met-yet at Charlottesville, Mandel fumbled her answer. Online mockery ensued.
- Some of the mockery took the form of reposting an old tweet of Mandel’s, where she somewhat flippantly discussed the undoubtedly traumatic experience of, as a teenager, allowing her mother to die. (Much as I—truly—loathe both Mandel and her husband, with neither of them advocating any public policies even bordering on kind, I also don’t quite understand some of my peers’ impulses/justifications for cruelty that they’d never take part in were they offline.)
- During all this, a twitter account purporting to be Glenn Danzig popped up in Mandel’s timeline, and tweeted “I like that you killed your own mother.” At this writing over 6,000 twitter users, presumably misremembering the lyrics to “Last Caress,” thought this was pretty cool.
Got all that? Great.
Now, to be clear, I don’t care about someone making a fake Glenn Danzig twitter account. Glenn Danzig is not a personal friend of mine. I’m barely even a fan. He only has a couple albums that I regularly revisit. Danzig’s politics have always been a mishmash of libertarian, libertine, conservative, facile-punk, and horny. Without getting too deep into the weeds of old interviews regarding the inevitable war between the races, let’s just say that Glenn Danzig is comfortable with the notion of Rock and Roll starting with Elvis, and leave it at that. If Danzig is, as Jess Harvell said, “the second most right-wing singer of the Misfits,” it’s only because the bar to be No.1 just got raised. Point is; much as I know and love every note of Lucifuge,I’m not coming from a place of needing to defend the wee horror-bard’s honor.
My issue, rather, is this. As much as I’m ambivalent about Glenn Danzig, he’s, in a fashion, perfect as he is. Without debating whether conservatives can make good art, it’s likely that were Glenn Danzig more like my dad's friends, he wouldn’t have written “Hybrid Moments.” He wouldn’t have written “Mother.” He wouldn’t have made one of the most transcendently boring skinemax soft-corror movies ever released. I don’t need or want Glenn Danzig to be anything other than what he is; the most Glenn Danzig Glenn Danzig the world has ever seen. In whatever ham hock glory that may be.
So it irks me to no end that huge (relatively speaking) swathes of people seem to be eager to embrace an obviously fraudulent version of the man, just because this version panders to their most basic black winged politics.
As the fake Danzig freely admits, the fake Glenn Danzig account portrays “the Danzig we all deserve.” This statement is grotesque in its narcissism; positing an ideal world, populated by ideal Danzigs, all of whom are ideal by dint of their similarity to the average Parks and Recreation enjoyer. It presumes that not only do “we” deserve jack shit from the bohunk monster-mash community, but also that the Danzig the account portrays is somehow preferable to the actual man. It posits a world where all the artists worth a damn are not only palling around with us online, but are actually just like the friends we made at some theoretical Baby’s All Right stand up comedy Bernie fundraiser back when we were young in 2020. Blame punk. Blame Portlandia. Blame Thor: Ragnarok. Blame the Eve 6 twitter account. Whatever is responsible; something along the way gave us a sweet taste of “the stars, they’re just like our roommates,” and now we can’t get enough.
It’s not just this tendency—this seeming need to reshape our problematic faves into the boho alt equivalent of dinner theater—that’s inducing in me an existential itch. I’m bothered, maybe even moreso, by the credulity being expressed regarding an account that is clearly fake to anyone with even a passing familiarity with the last forty years of Glenn Danzig interviews and/or art. How can anyone read an account that tweets “People like to say I don't have a sense of humor but how do they explain my whole deal?” and think “yeah, that scans.” This is not to say that Danzig is entirely lacking in self-awareness because I think he’s dumb. Quantifying an artist’s intelligence doesn’t interest me. Rather, I’m appalled that the person behind the account, and the thousands of people who enjoy it, are incapable of grasping that a key component of what makes Glenn Danzig both great and terrible is that self-awareness (and irony in any sense) is, in fact, anathema to his entire project. For good or ill, the Misfits/Samhain/Danzig catalog is a rejection of postmodernism. When Glenn Danzig sings about succubi slaughtering dick in the heat of a dirty black summer, he means it. Not because he genuinely thinks he’s a werewolf, but because he lives within his enthusiasms. There is no distance between him and the subject matter. Danzig feels the same way—about swords and sorcery and half-naked she-wolves of the SS—as Elvis Presley felt about the blue moon over Kentucky. And, to be clear, this can be very funny. Far funnier than this fake account could ever hope to be. But the laughter comes from absurdity; from the pleasure of a ridiculous art that bridges the divide between The Supremes and Conan the Destroyer. In the face of that absurdity, why settle for clever?
If this was a one-off, that would be one thing. But it is not. It seems like, again and again, there is a tendency to engage in magical thinking—a self-hypnosis that allows otherwise skeptical thinkers to believe that the Tommy Lee’s of the world are penning hyperarticulate screeds about the democratically existential threat Donald Trump poses. I don’t believe in Trump Derangement Syndrome. But I do believe in a wish-cast spell that’s incantation is “Drumpf” uttered three times in front of a mirror.
In this vein, there’s a perfectly understandable tendency to assume a kinship with artists we love. This kinship can easily blur into a feeling of ownership.
The tendency is more prevalent, I think, amongst progressives. Not because progressives are prone to delusion (obviously, being one, I think progressives are wise and correct and handsome). Rather, conservatives would have to be even more delusional than they already are to think that most of the artists they like share their values. Not that it doesn’t happen, but it takes a special kind of dumb for a right winger to look at the album art of Born In The USA, think “yes. This is my guy.” and go no further. Conversely, progressives—spoiled for commie art as we are—are perpetually surprised when we find out that the old NRA spokeslady is a former goth who loves 13th Floor Elevators.
Taking all these impulses into account, and being as prone to at least a couple of them as anyone, I’m sympathetic to those who wish that the author of “Mommy, Can I Go Out and Kill Tonight?” votes the Democratic ticket all the way down. But this sympathy doesn’t make either the account’s arrogant attempt to Galifianakisinate a feral badger, or the willful suspension of disbelief required to think that @GlennDanzigReal (with an $8 dollar badge of authenticity) is the real deal—and that the real Glenn Danzig sits around his hentai ouija board, shirtless, typing quips about Jordan Peterson—any more tolerable.
Really, what this all resembles is Henry & Glenn Forever (the comic book that portrays Danzig and Henry Rollins as a loving homosexual couple), where ostensibly progressive fans (myself included) tied themselves in knots to avoid acknowledging that the underlying joke of the comic was that Rollins and Danzig were a gay couple. We’d talk about how sweet the comic was (and it was!), and how positively it portrayed the two men; anything to elide the truth that the premise was inherently homophobic. “Look! These macho guys are in love! How bonkers is that???? Awwww!” Believing in the Glenn Danzig twitter account requires a similar amount of tying of self-justifying rhetorical knots. (“I don’t want to know if it’s fake! It gives me joy!”) But unlike Henry & Glenn Forever, what underlines the thing isn’t a homophobic (or, fine, maybe homophilic) joke. That would imply that there’s an underlying joke at all, as opposed to what is there: not much, plus references. Essentially, we like something and, being the center of our own universes, we endeavor to believe that what we like is, in fact, like us. Sometimes what we like wouldn’t, if they met us at a bar, even reciprocate the affection.
Hell, sometimes the things we like wouldn’t even give us the time of day at the bar. They’d be too busy reading a Classics Illustrated edition of Mein Kampf while finger-banging a zombified Jayne Mansfield from Mars.
As the recent Sargent House news makes clear, there are alt metal organizations that will happily pander to those who need their transgressive art validated by forward facing good intentions. If you want to believe that Glenn Danzig is tweeting scornfully at Ben Shapiro, you can. If you want to believe that a label—whose owner and tentpole artist had both previously been vocal, if dunderheaded, Objectivists—all of a sudden, as soon as Trump took office, transformed into a BLM/wicca support org for Women In Metal, you can believe that as well. While the stakes, in terms of harm done, are obviously incomparable; both do depend on false face; a lie that is most convincing to those who need their art to walk in lockstep with their values. The lie is appealing. Flattering even. Magical thinking without the “magical” is just “thinking,” which is a drag. But Sargent House is what it is. Danzig is who he is. The difference is that—even setting aside that Sargent House couldn’t produce a “Twist of Cain” on its best day—Danzig has never pretended to be anything else. His truth may be a wrongheaded belief in small government and big tits on vampires, and our truths might be the slightly more reasonable beliefs that fascism is pretty bad and Bethany Mandel is a bit of an asshole. But, in the insistence on projecting these good truths on Danzig’s square jawed grimace, these good truths become lies. And we become liars. Worse, we lie to ourselves, perpetuating a weird and pathetic circle jerk of delusions. All so we can feel virtuous while listening to a roast beef barbarian in iron crosses and black leather singing about using the skulls of little girls to decorate his walls.
THANKS FOR READING.
BONUS: A TOTALLY UNRELATED MIX OF NEW (and some old) MUSIC. FOR YOU! Here!
Action Swingers - Knocked Out Cold
Fugitive Bubble - Delusion
Lost Legion - Used To Be Fun
NoNoNo - I’ll See You In Hell
Mega X - た り な い ぼ く ら
Crown Court - Rich Boy
MSPAINT- Delete It
Prognoz Pogody - в д р у г о й р а з
Snapped Ankles - Planet You
Plastic Tones - Threshold
Son Rompe Pera - Cumbia Is The New Punk
Kara Jackson - pawnshop
Red Mass - Soda Pop (Ft. Hannah Lewis)
Mute Duo - Night Guides
Sex Virgin Killer - The lights will fall (Shinobu Narita Remix)
Pekodjinn - Chokri
Zohra - Empire Grave
Nuha Ruby Ra - 6 In The Morning
Nosaj from New Kingdom - Modern Man
Algiers feat. Samuel T. Herring & Jae Matthews - I Can't Stand It!
Treponem Pal - Survival Sounds
Wrecking Crew - BLCK RCK N RLL feat Thirstin Howl the 3rd (Jason Griff Remix)
Protomartyr - Make Way
Commando - Four
Smoulder - The Talisman and the Blade
Crunt - Black Heart
Loosey - Hardly See Me
Mudhoney - Almost Everything
Truth Cult - Kokaine Kommando
Class - Cockney Rebel Vs. The Cult
Bell Rays - Changing Colors